By Yinka Kolawole
Nigeria lost about $1.35 billion to oil theft in the first half of 2019, with at least 22.6 million barrels of oil reported stolen between January and July.
Gov. Godwin Obaseki who heads a federal ad-hoc committee to check pipeline vandalism disclosed this in a presentation at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja. He noted that the country risks losing up to $2.7 billion worth of oil within a year if the not checked.
This was revealed in a statement made available to Vanguard, yesterday, by Laolu Akande, the spokesman of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is the Chairman of NEC, noted that the figures showing the losses were provided to his committee by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
He stated: “The 13-member ad-hoc-committee chaired by me, submitted its report to the NEC today. The committee was constituted to address the impact of vandalization, oil theft, illegal bunkering on oil production. It was also to check the effectiveness of the activities of the joint task force and other security agencies in curbing the menace of oil theft and also to consider the set up of special court to prosecute offenders amongst others.
“The ad-hoc committee discovered that there were huge losses. In fact, the NNPC reported to the committee that the 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35 billion was lost during the first half of this year. And if this situation is not contained in two years we would have lost in excess of $2.7 billion.
“The losses that were recorded in the first half of the year were broken down as follows: The Nembe creek trunk-line lost 9.2 million barrel, the Trans-Niger pipeline lost 8.6 million barrel, the Trans-Focadoes Pipeline lost 3.9 million barrel, Trans-Escravos pipe we lost 877,000 barrel.
“The ad-hoc-committee reported that the governance structure of the pipeline is such today that no one is held accountable whenever there are bridges and when these losses occur.
“The slow and inadequate prosecution of thieves despite numerous arrests and seizures have continued to encourage this menace. The absence of petroleum products filling stations in most of the oil-producing communities around the Niger Delta makes them resort to illegal bunkering and illegal refineries.”
Obaseki said that the committee recommended restructuring the maintenance and ownership of oil pipelines as a way of tackling the perpetrators of crude and other products.
“We should have a legal framework that will ensure that criminals are duly prosecuted, imprisoned and their assets confiscated. There should be special courts to trial offenders and also have a special legal task force to coordinate the prosecution of arrested offenders as well as trained special judges to handle cases of oil theft,” he added.